Residents petition for 20mph borough-wide speed limit

20 mile per hour zone Pic: Edinburgh Green Party

20 mile per hour zone Pic: Edinburgh Green Party

Residents are urging the Mayor of Lewisham to implement a 20mph speed zone in the borough to protect vulnerable road users.

Clare Griffiths, a researcher from Catford, started a petition following Mayor Steve Bullock’s decision not to reduce the current default 30mph speed limit at a council meeting last week.

Lewisham Green Party leader Darren Johnson, originally asked Bullock to review his position after police announced they would strengthen their enforcement of 20mph speed limits.

Johnson is concerned that “Labour in Lewisham appear blind to the benefits” of having a default 20mph speed limit.

Although Sir Steve suggested lobbying the government instead, Johnson said: “We can do both: implement the 20mph limit locally and lobby the government for a national reduction in the 30mph limit.”

Griffiths’ petition aims to reduce death and serious injury, as well as pollution and traffic noise.

She will present the petition to the council in the New Year and hopes it will “encourage a change in decision” from the Mayor.

However, only council controlled roads can be made 20mph as main roads still fall under Travel for London’s jurisdiction.

Griffiths estimates the change will cost £350,000: “It’s not hugely expensive… it seems obvious and so sensible.”

She added: “It’s about changing peoples mindset about what speed is acceptable in an urban area.”

Southwark, Camden, Islington, City of London, Waltham Forrest, Greenwich, Hackney, Haringey and Lambeth have all adopted 20mph as their default speed limit.

The Lewisham petition is part of ‘20s Plenty for Us’, a wider campaign to reduce speed limits. Jeremy Leach, the London Campaign Co-ordinator said Lewisham Council is “trying to say it is all TfLs fault in their response to Darren Johnson.”

“The Council is being disingenuous when it says that the ‘vast majority of traffic collisions resulting in injuries occur on the TfL Road Network.”

He cited that 52 per cent of the 170 Lewisham pedestrian casualties in 2012 occurred on borough-managed roads as evidence to the contrary.

Leach added: “Lewisham has had a good track record in relation to casualties in recent years. But evidence now shows casualties are rising and are occurring on the main roads in Lewisham. 20mph speed limits are proven to reduce both speed and casualties.”

In 2012, the numbers of causalities on Lewisham’s roads had risen to 998, a 13.4% increase from 2008, according to TfL Road Safety statistics.

After a series of cycling fatalities across East London, Stop Killing Cyclists, an ongoing campaign, also are also demanding 20mph speed zones.

Donnachadh McCarthy, spokesperson for Stop Killing Cyclists, said: “The chances of cyclists being killed are radically reduced if they are hit by 20mph rather than 30mph.”

McCarthy added that children using bicycles on 30mph roads “is an invitation for death.”

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